Did you know that if you say “Gullible” real slow, it sounds like greenbeans?
That’s what my third son told me.
And I fell for it!
Much to his amusement.
He says I owe him $15 dollars every time I use that joke.
He should have been named Joyful. He has such a joyful spirit: good humored, mischievous, comfortable-in-his-skinness, gladness. Nehemiah says, “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength”(8:10). Strength implies that there something beyind a good laugh. Strength with joy says, “I won’t be a victim” when challenges come. An I-will-approach-challenges-with-a-hope kind of attitude.
Sometimes I call him The Freshness after the Storm. I love storms, the sound of the rain, the way the wind can buffet the house, even the thunder. As much as it sometimes scares me and I like to cuddle up on the couch with the blanket, sometimes I like to stand on the porch and just watch. A storm is feisty and gentle all at once. You have the booms, jagged lightening that explodes, rain pelting and chilling. You also have the gentle palpitating drip of water off the eaves and leaves, the gurgling going down pipes, the soft sound of rain droplets hitting the pavement.
After the storm spends itself, you have the freshness after the storm. Sweet sunshine, red, blue, green, yellow, purples—all the colors rebrightened from the washing. Peacefulness. Calm. Joy.
All the boys communicate differently. When they’re all together communicating, it can resemble a Hurricane with its force or a Tsunami, a big wave hovering, threatening by its very presence to run over you.
Separately, they all communicate differently. Heart-to-heart sit-downs where you talk about everything from politics, to God, to whose scones are better—yours or mine—that’s Perceiver of Truth. Everybody talks. Everybody voices. Each mind brews ideas, sending them through a discerning filter of appropriateness, creating a rich conversation.
Faithful spills the beans, verbally and emotionally, about what’s going on in life. It is like an Octopus-in-the-Box. Sometimes you just wish some of those legs would stay in the box! Unfiltered communication tossed, sometimes hurled, like a baseball in a tournament. You’re left trying to catch it without dropping the ball, trying to figure out strategic, skilled response. I teach my college students about writing dialogue. In a dialogue between two people, you list not only their conversation, but the conversation in their head. Great on paper, not in real life. However, what you see is what you get, honest, unalloyed, unvarnished truth.
Deep verbal discussion? Emotional outpouring of life’s ups and downs? Not Joyful.
Conversation requires purpose. Purpose can be to encourage—“Great dinner, Mom.” Or what he said to the girl down the street in the 5th grade. She was to compete as an 8th grader in our county’s Fairest of the Fair. “If I were a judge, I’d vote for you,” he told her. So young! So pure of heart! So not 14!
Joyful has grown beyond snugglebuggles and telling me he loves me, but he communicates in code now. Let me give you an example:
“Mama? Can I have a pet anaconda (or warthog, sheep dog, otter, or any animal of the week)?”
That’s code for, “I love you, Mom.” Now that I have broken the code, I just smile, saying, “I love you, too.” Funny, he hasn’t asked for a pet anaconda for awhile.
Then there’s this question. “Mama,” he asks (mama is the word of choice when he wants something. Mom is for the really serious stuff). “Mama, can I have $15?”
After hearing this question for months (of course, I didn’t turn over the money), I broke another code. Money was code for hug. The amount he asked for determined how many hugs he really wanted.
He hasn’t asked for money in quite a few weeks, either.
He no longer brags on my food. Instead, he will say, “Great dinner, Mom. . . . Not.” I’ve learned that’s code for “YUM.”
Joyful is a giver spiritual gift and love language. He actually likes to buy gifts for people. He initiates the gift giving. When he was about 5, we were Christmas shopping. He saw a brightly painted ceramic gift bag. He thought Dad should have it. He was determined Dad would love it.
He and Perceiver of Truth always pick out my birthday present together. One year they bought me a marble chess set. It replaced the one where some other little guy dropped all the mable pieces to watch their heads fall off. I love playing chess with the boys–and winning! Another year they bought me a great sign that said: “There will be a $5 Charge for Whining. $20 for Being a Real Pain in the Butt. Gift givers gifts are not shallow gifts.
In 7th grade he was “going out” with a girl. On Valentine’s Day, he bought her a box of chocolates. She loved them. She ate all of them. She threw them all up—can’t eat chocolate.
When I’m cooking dinner, he comes in the kitchen and gives me hugs. When he was little, he used sneak up and hug me. Now he hugs me with one arm and steals food with the other. Silly me. I stand there in a quandary. Should I let him eat everyone’s dinner, or I just be a hug hog! The older I get, the more hug hog trumps kitchen rules any day!
His teachers love him in class. He answers questions, participates in discussion, and adds humor to break tension. He used to write lyrics to songs. I haven’t seen any in awhile, but it showed me that while he doesn’t jump in with the political discussion or emotionally vent, he has big, deep thoughts that amaze me, thoughts about God and plain living.
He’s starting to realize his gift with words. At the beach, he asked a girl, “Can I take a picture of you with my cell phone, so I can show Santa what I want for Christmas?”
Sigh! Each gift is a double-edged sword.